Senators criticize Obama over Libya
February 27th, 2011
09:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Senators criticize Obama over Libya

(CNN) – Two leading U.S. senators were both critical Sunday of President Barack Obama's delay in speaking out over the uprising in Libya.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Obama should "stand up for democracy" and noted that the British prime minister and French president were not hesitant to address the crisis.

"America leads," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" from Cairo. "They're looking to America for leadership, for assistance, for moral support and ratification of the sacrifices they've made in the defense of democracy. America should lead."

Anti-government protests continued Sunday in Libya, where the nation's leader of more than 40 years, Moammar Gadhafi, clings to power in Tripoli after weeks of protests.

On the same program, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said he understood why the administration initially hesitated in speaking out on the crisis in Libya due to concerns about the safety of U.S. citizens there.

"Frankly I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Gadhafi regime," Lieberman said, adding "the fact is now is the time for action, not just statements."

On Saturday, Obama said Gadhafi "has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement urging the Libyan leader to step down.

Lieberman said he hoped that new sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States are successful, and that the U.S. should aid opposition forces in Libya if they are unable to end the Gadhafi regime on their own.

McCain predicted the end of Gadhafi's rule.

"I think his days are numbered," McCain said. "The question is how many people are going to be massacred between now and when he leaves. We ought to shorten that time frame as much as possible, and I believe we can."

McCain said the United States should help impose a no-fly zone to prevent government aircraft from attacking the Libyan people and should also recognize a provisional government in the east, where anti-Gadhafi forces hold power.

In addition, McCain said, Washington should make clear that Libyan officials involved in attacks on their own people would face war crimes prosecution.

"Get tough," McCain said. However, he stopped short of advocating that U.S. ground forces enter Libya to help oust Gadhafi. Instead, the United States should supply and equip a provisional government, McCain said.

- CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. brad

    Quarterback Senators.

    February 27, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Bassman

    Sarah Palin writes: ".It’s a little perplexing looking at the White House today. There was a statement on the horrible earthquake in New Zealand, and certainly our hearts go out to all those affected by this horrible natural disaster. But nothing on the slaughter in Libya?
    Her full statement was writen Feburary 22nd. Five full days earlier. Since our media could not mock her, they ignored her.

    February 27, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. annie s

    Yawn. The Joe and John warmonger show are criticizing our President again. How dare he have a measured response until he was sure all Americans were safely out of the country. How dare he not want to rush our military into every foreign skirmish so that we can totally bankrupt our own nation. How dare he think before he acts!

    February 27, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  4. Monrob

    These two should just get married.

    February 27, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Obama is, always will be my President

    How many time do I have to tell you not to pay any attention to John McCain, he is the one who made us watch Palin that prove he do not know s....about anything. He need to go home and stay there.

    February 27, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  6. Obama is, always will be my President

    "Get tough," McCain said. However, he stopped short of advocating that U.S. ground forces enter Libya to help oust Gadhafi. Instead, the United States should supply and equip a provisional government, McCain said."
    Tell me how this cut spending? I told you this man is sick. Bomb, Bomb, Bomb is all he know. Poor thing he still need to go home otherwise he will have us fighting wars all over the place.

    February 27, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. BenInOhio

    C'mon, Senators, get real. We're talking about Mr. Obama here. He lacks solid foreign policy experience. Besides, he has a warped view of America's leadership role in the world. Why would you expect him to do anything about the crisis in Libya or anywhere else for that matter?

    February 27, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. Jilli

    NEWS FLASH – John McCain complains about President Obama...again.

    The permanent sunday talk show host crows again. McCain outlived his relevance years ago, but yet he's like the permanent stage prop on Sunday mornings.

    February 27, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. Larry L

    If we listened to McCain or Lieberman we'd police every one of the world's uprisings. I couldn't vote for McCain because he continually shifts his position with changing political winds – not a "maverick" but rather a desperate, old man. I couldn't vote for Joe Lieberman because his Jewish faith makes it impossible to make unbiased decisions regarding countries in the Mid-East. He is a "one-trick pony". Obama has been doing a great job of balancing America's interests against the right of self-determination for those now controlling their national destinies.

    February 27, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. GonzoinHouston

    The administration didn't speak out against Ghaddafi until the last of our citizens were out of the country. Can you say "hostages", Senators? Iran? '79? Ayatollah Khomenei? Any of this ring a bell? Now that our people are safe we can, and have, ramped up the rhetoric and actions. Obama played this hand very well, thank you.

    February 27, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  11. Chumlee

    Crawl back into your holes old men

    February 27, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  12. RightWingMark

    Obama – what a community organizing loser.

    February 27, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. FM

    Hasn't McCain heard what the Defense Secretary Gate has said?? He has said: "Any Gov. leader who will think of sending the army to Asia, Mideast and Africa to fight, his head must get examined"!

    February 27, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. Bill

    Let's see.
    Linsay Lohan, Jersey shore, Charlie Sheen, Libya. All being used as a distraction from the fact that Republicans have gotten in and allowed to continue their ruinous reign of our country. Cutting everything from the middle class and real Americans. Libya?
    What about America,Republicans? Look what YOU are doing too America. Republicans are nothing but hypocritical pols.
    At least President Obama is trying to help THIS country.

    February 27, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. WayneK

    And where, Senator McCain, would the money come from to 'supply and equip a provisional government', especially when you and your cohorts in the Congress are trying to cut $100 billion from the federal budget? Maybe out of Medicare? Social Security? Certainly not by closing the oil tax loopholes.

    February 27, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Lisa Mitchell

    Obama can't win for loosing when it comes to "experts" like McPain. There is nothing that he can do that would be appropriate or acceptable to these people, and that is why America voted him as president as opposed to McPain. Whether you think he is right or wrong, he is a thinker, not an actor and that is EXACTLY what we need right now. We DONT HAVE TROOPS OR MONEY to support the "democracy" of this country!!! We have been trying to force democracy down the throats of Iraq, and Afghanistan to 10 years. All the free money they could spend, all the free weapons they could fire, and democracy. Lets clean up our own backyard. We are not seen as "leaders" in the world anymore, but as the bickering little brats our government has presented. Suck it up McPain, your days are numbered too~

    February 27, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. Marc

    Senators criticize Obama over what kind of suits he wears. Senators criticize Obama for the brand of toilet paper he uses. Blah, blah, blah. All these a-holes do is criticize without any legitimate alternatives to anything the President says or does. It's disgusting their lack of respect for this man who is doing nothing other than his best to try to serve the people of this country. They were elected to serve the people, not try to get re-elected or "take down the president".

    February 27, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. clarke

    Well, it's simple, No matter what the President does or doesn't do, right, wrong or indifferent, it will never be what they think it should be. I don't like saying this, but deep down I feel it's true, Our President is not a white man, therefore he will never earn the respect he so deserves and has earned. BY the way I am a 70year old white women, I don't have race, color or greed issues.

    February 27, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. manman

    Another country for the US of A to attack, have more troops killed, give back the country so that they can kill more troops.
    I say let them kill each other.

    My father would always say, once a pig, always a pig.

    February 27, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. Brian

    Obama has been late and remarkably unengaged during this time of great transformation. I am surprised!

    February 27, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. ken100

    Obama cannot make decisions and doesn't have the staff to guide him. It looks like a Chicago Public School in the White House!

    February 27, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Roscoe

    McCain and Lieberman giving advice? I think I'd rather call the psychic hotline.

    February 27, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Kevin Morrison

    It's easier said than done, 2 washed-up wannabe's

    February 27, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. cronewinter

    I'm so thankful we have a thoughtful diplomat in the White house. Mr, Obama is a refreshing and wholesome change from the "fix it with bombs" crowd

    February 27, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. michael leonardi

    why does anyone have to have their intelligence or motives questioned by these two clowns, they represent the worst of what the United States offers to the global community. They are a complete disgrace!!

    February 27, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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